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#1297378 - 10/31/09 07:02 PM Possible to start right out on organ?
Dew643 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/28/09
Posts: 13
I have always loved organ music over piano and it seems the organ
keeps,...and holds,...my interest more so than the piano. Having
said that,my question would be this,...is it possible to start right out on organ even if a person has never had experience on
piano first? I have been told yes and it would take a bit longer
due to the fact you would have to learn the bass pedals. That is okay with me. I have always wanted to learn to play organ,but in
the past,...money was always an issue it seemed,...and space! If
I were to find a nice used Hammond A-100,for example,...would that be a good organ to learn on?

#1297843 - 11/01/09 05:13 PM Re: Possible to start right out on organ? [Re: Dew643]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
It all depends on what sort of organ music that holds your interest - i.e., pop-rock, gospel, jazz or classical? Regardless, a good knowledge of music theory is essential.

In regards to classical organ specifically, Harold Gleason's Method of Organ Playing states that an organists should have a good basis in Bach's Preludes, 2 & 3 Part Inventions, and French Suites played on the piano before progressing to the organ, (the same can be said for playing fugues on the piano as well).

Jazz/gospel pedaling is a totally different beast than classical organ with completely different techniques corresponding to the different purposes of the pedal in those sorts of music. Using a truncated pedal board (or even a lack of pedals) may be sufficient in rock/pop organ, as the music of ELP, The Doors & Led Zeppelin will attest.

The A-100 is a sweet organ, more suited to jazz/gospel with its flat rather than AGO pedal board, although classical can certainly be played on it.

#1306897 - 11/16/09 09:54 PM Re: Possible to start right out on organ? [Re: Amant]
Dew643 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/28/09
Posts: 13
I am after more of a pipe organ sound than I am the gospel sound of a Hammomd. I only used the A-100 as an example,so
I would apologize for any confusion I may have caused. I
would like to find an older,but well cared for,Allen organ
that has the speakers inside the console. On a youtube video
clip I seen an Allen MDS-5 organ that was being demonstrated.
The organ was made in the early 1990's. This is pretty much what I have in mind. A newer version of that organ would be an Allen R230 Renaissance organ also with self contained speakers since space would be at a premium. I am drawn to
Allen organs for their quality of sound and dependability,as well as parts availability should a part fail for whatever
reason. Kinda hard to get parts for an old Hammond tone wheel organ anymore from what I hear. I just want to learn to play hymns is all ,but I want pipe organ sound

#1306942 - 11/16/09 11:43 PM Re: Possible to start right out on organ? [Re: Dew643]
Ken Knapp Offline

Registered: 04/18/06
Posts: 2350
Loc: Pennsylvania
Actually, I have an easier time getting parts for those old tonewheel organs than anything else I've ever worked on.

I've seen many organs from the 80's on up that use specialized chips that are no longer made and you can't get anywhere. That really scares me about the newer stuff. The tonewheel vintage stuff used generic parts that you can get in any electronics supply house. But what's going to happen with an organ someone buys today brand new? I honestly wonder if the specialized parts (chips) will be out there, because there are a lot used that are proprietary.


Piano Organ Depot
Hammond Organ Technician
Vice President - MITA, International

#1308023 - 11/18/09 07:35 PM Re: Possible to start right out on organ? [Re: Ken Knapp]
Big_Al Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 24
Loc: UK
I think it is possible, however a lot more challenging than beginning on Piano; with the Organ there is a lot more to learn, not just with regards to pedalling but also stop combinations, the flat hand technique, geography of 2+ manuals etc... I would recommend going for at least Grade 4 Piano before seriously starting on the Organ, however if you are really determined perhaps it would be best to start on the instrument of your choice so you are more eager to practice?
Speaking of practice, another small niggle of being an Organist is finding a decent instrument to practice on, I prefer to go straight in on the full blown church Pipe Organ than to use an electric, for the simple reason that, although electric keys are 'realistic', as an organist you will often find yourself playing non-electrified Pipe Organs, which have a unique touch and can be daunting for a first-time recital if you haven't used them before (trust me, my first proper organ recital was on one of these, it's a completely different kettle of fish - the keys are somewhere between those of a Harpsichord and a Piano in that they're stiff but generally don't have the 'ping' of a Harpsi. - in contrast, the keys of an electrified Pipe Organ are incredibly similar to those of a fully electric arranger keyboard).
Finding a church with a suitable Organ can often be difficult, and you can't just walk in and play... The best way to go about it is to visit churches in your local area and talk to the choir masters/Organists, they will usually be happy for you to practice on the instrument so long as you show a degree of respect and at least some knowledge of the keyboard. Once you have a church to practice in, be vigilant that people may well come in and out whilst you are playing, and therefore you will have to get used to having company whilst you practice... When I play the church organ people often stop and watch/listen, something which, when I was a beginner (and therefore adept at making mistakes), found incredibly disconcerting.
In the end it will boil down to your determination to play the Organ versus the practicality of playing the Piano, but ultimately it's your choice - the last thing I want to do is discourage you from learning what is, after all, the King of Instruments!

Bach: Fantasia and Fugue in G Minor BWV 542, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor BWV 565
Beethoven: Moonlight Sonata: 3. Presto Agitato Op. 27/2
Chopin: Scherzo No. 2 in B Flat Minor Op. 32, Ballade #1 in G Minor Op. 23/2
Liszt: La Campanella S.140/3, Grand Galop Chromatique S.219
Rachmaninov: Preludes Op. 23


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